There are two kinds of risks faced by a vacant property. First, there are the bad things that people do to it, and then there are the bad things that just happen. Here, we’ll talk about bad things people do on a vacant property and give you a few tips on what you can do about it. We will cover bad things that just happen and go into more depth as to what can be done to reduce the risk in separate blogs.
The most common and fastest growing risk a property owner faces today having a vacant property is the risk that someone will do something bad to their property. We can divide these “bad actors” into four separate categories.
Squatters – This is when someone breaks in and occupies a vacant property. Squatters range from the unhoused who are otherwise homeless, all the way to sophisticated con artists with fake rental agreements and mail with their name sent to the address, helping them establish the illusion of their legitimacy. This is more common than you may think and is worthy of a separate episode where we treat the subject more in-depth. For now, let’s just say you would rather deal with an unsophisticated unhoused person than a crafty, well-informed con artist. If you ever find yourself dealing with the authorities regarding squatters, make certain you refer to them as trespassers and never call them “squatters.” Squatters may have rights, but trespassers are just breaking the law.
Scammers – This is where someone fraudulently pretends that they are the landlord of a vacant property they do not own. This is an epidemic. Lone swindlers and organized crime syndicates alike are performing this scam on a massive scale. They find vacant properties and advertise them for lease, collecting rent and security deposits for a property they do not own, sometimes taking rent and deposits for the same property from multiple prospective tenants. This devious activity adversely affects landlords by wasting time, damaging property, and sometimes requiring an eviction. This crime sadly also harms prospective tenants and can be financially devastating for people who can afford it least. Unfortunately, law enforcement is not much help regarding this unscrupulous crime. It is important that every landlord is aware of the scammers and that they pay attention to what is happening at their vacant property and with ads featuring your property. If you want to learn more about rental scams, check out “Mike Explains Rental Scams (And How To Avoid Them).”
Delinquents – This is when neighborhood kids, the unhoused, or whoever uses a vacant property as a “party spot”. They don’t intend on moving in, but they can sure make a mess out of your vacant property. These usually young people are often under the influence of something and doing things they’re not allowed to do elsewhere. They may gather in the home's backyard or wherever they can gain access. What may start out seemingly somewhat innocent can quickly get out of hand, potentially causing harm to your property and even the people involved. If someone gets hurt, you the property owner, could potentially be liable. This is why you need to pay attention to what is happening at your property and make sure it’s secure.
Vandals – Vandalism is intentional damage done to your property. This damage can range anywhere from graffiti to arson. A vacant property is significantly more likely to be a target of vandalism than an occupied one. The longer that a home is left vacant, the greater the odds of vandalism occurring. Once a vacant property has been vandalized, it is more likely to be the target of future acts of vandalism. The longer it’s left unattended, the greater the risk is. Fix acts of vandalism as soon as possible to deter vandals.
A vacant property is susceptible to risks that an occupied property is not. The biggest risk is that somebody will do something bad to your property. These bad actors include squatters, scammers, delinquents, and vandals. There are ways to reduce the risk that people will harm your property, which we will cover in an upcoming series.
Of course, you may want to consider hiring a property manager. If you are looking for a reliable property management company, or real estate broker in Long Beach, Los Angeles, or Orange County, California, or you’re just considering it and have a few questions, contact the Mike Dunfee Group today for a full-service real estate company that can help you with all your real estate needs.
Dunfee Real Estate Services
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